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A study of misconceptions about childhood diarrhoea among adults in urban Pondicherry, India

Hema Priya Subramani, Rajkumar Patil, Nasrin Nisha, Sachin Palve, Lokeshmaran A.

Background: Diarrheal disease is a major cause of morbidity and mortality among under-five age especially in rural and peri-urban communities in developing countries. Lack of knowledge of mothers about diarrheal diseases is a common problem in many developing countries. Objective of the study is to study the misconceptions of caregivers regarding diarrheal management among under five children in an urban area of pondicherry. And to find out the association of false beliefs with socio-demographic factors.
Method: A cross sectional study was conducted in September 2011 in urban health center (UHTC), Ariankuppam field practice area of department of community medicine. Patients who visited the UHTC during two weeks’ time period were interviewed by pre-tested semi structured proforma. Total 405 participants were included. The collected data were analysed using SPSS version 20.
Results: Out of 405 participants, 74.6% told that solid and semisolid foods should not be given during diarrhoea. One third (33.1%) participants told that fluids should be stopped during diarrhoea. 44.2% told breast feeding should be stopped during diarrhoea. Only half (53.1%) of the participants told that ORS is useful in treating diarrhoea. 21.5% told antibiotics is must for treating diarrhoea. 13%, 18% and 62% were told don’t know regarding whether breast feeding should be stopped, ORS is useful and antibiotic are needed during diarrheal episodes or not. There was significant association observed that females (61.8%) had better knowledge in fluids shouldn’t be stopped during diarrhoea (p-0.003). 50.4% females and 56.9% of males perceived that ORS is useful in diarrhoea and this differences were statistically significant (p-0.005). Caregiver’s educational status and sex difference had statistically significant association with misconceptions about childhood diarrhoea.
Conclusion: Based on this study, majority of the people had false beliefs about diarrhea and its management which was silently prevailing in this study area. More emphasis is needed to create an awareness regarding importance of ORS and breast feeding during diarrhea and also about the rational use of antibiotics. Interactive communication strategies and periodic training sessions should be implemented for the health workers and mothers/ caregivers

Key words: Misconception, Diarrhoea, Breast feeding, ORS, Antibiotics

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